After weeks of back and forth negotiations, congressional Republicans and Democrats have finally struck a deal on a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill, legislation that would avert a government shutdown and fund government through October of 2016.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wi., announced the deal on the package, called the Omnibus, to House Republicans during a closed door conference meeting Tuesday night.
A major tax extender package to renew dozens of expiring tax breaks was also agreed upon — about $750 billion in breaks in all — with some tax breaks lasting just two years while others will be permanent.
"This evening Republican members were presented an omnibus spending bill and a robust tax extender package that will provide permanent relief to families and job creators," Ryan’s press secretary AshLee Strong said. 'While not getting everything we wanted, the speaker noted that both packages include many provisions that Republicans have long fought for. The speaker noted that though there are significant wins in these packages, we must not repeat this process and instead get back to regular order in 2016."
For weeks now, negotiators have been working their way through several partisan policy provisions that lawmakers on either side of the aisle have been trying to have included in the Omnibus — commonly called "riders."
Ryan — who was negotiating a major deal for the first time as Speaker and understands Republicans will need a large number of Democratic votes to pass the omnibus bill — admitted Tuesday morning that this deal was a compromise.
“In negotiations like this, you win some, you lose some. Democrats won some, they lost some, we won some, we lost some,” Ryan said.
Republicans were able to score a major win in the omnibus with lifting the 40-year ban on exporting American crude oil.
“It’s something that I think is very important for our economy,” Sen John Barrasso, R-WI, told reporters of lifting the oil export ban, “I think it helps with jobs, I think it helps with our energy security, and it helps our allies who are wanting to buy product from us rather than other places.”
There was debate over which vehicle - the omnibus or the tax extender deal - lifting the oil export ban would be in but to help garner more Republican votes, it stayed in the spending deal.
In the wake of the recent terror attacks, lawmakers decided to include language in the spending deal that tightens the Visa Waiver Program. Leaders decided to leave out language, however, that conservatives wanted included that would have increased the vetting process for Syrian refugees to enter the country.
There is also language preventing detainees from being transferred from Guantanamo Bay to America.
The Affordable Care Act will also be impacted by these two deals. Ryan announced tonight the Omnibus will include delaying a provision in the ACA — known as the "Cadillac tax," a tax on high-cost healthcare plans — for two years. And in the tax extender package, there will be a two-year suspension of the medical device tax.
Noticeably missing from the deal — and a blow to Congressional Democrats — is the lifting the nearly 20-year ban on the Centers for Disease Control to study the impact of gun violence. That despite House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca., personally raising the issue with the speaker himself late last week.
But an important addition to the bill for the New York delegation was the permanent extension of healthcare benefits to first responders of the September 11th terrorist attacks who are ill because of their time working at Ground Zero.
This extension comes after comedian Jon Stewart and dozens of sick first responders lobbied tirelessly for the money on Capitol Hill for months.
Pelosi met with her caucus Tuesday evening as well with many having major concerns with the tax extender package telling reporters afterwards it it “damages the future.”
“It forecloses our option of doing real, meaningful tax fairness and simplification, where we could lower the corporate rate and have growth,” Pelosi said.
Both Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are confident Congress will pass both of these major bills this week before they are set to adjourn for the year.
“We anticipate those votes will occur in the House on Thursday, and then we hope in the Senate on Thursday as well,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday afternoon.